Dealing with urinary incontinence

If you suffer from pelvic floor disorders, there’s hope!
Elizabeth Trausch, D.P.T. DMU Clinic

Wetting one’s pants after sneezing. Discomfort while sitting. Painful intercourse. Millions of women are believed to suffer these and other pelvic floor disorders along with the physical, emotional and social nightmares they create. Many suffer silently, too embarrassed to discuss these issues even with their physicians.

DMU’s Physical Therapy Clinic can offer solutions, however. Its specially trained staff use manual techniques along with computer technology, called EMG biofeedback, to evaluate and measure length, tone and strength in the pelvic floor muscles. This technology helps the therapist analyze the problem and propose treatment.

“If the pelvic floor muscles are weak or uncoordinated, a woman can have incontinence issues and/or pain. There may be trigger points and tightness in these muscles, just like any other muscle in the body,” says Elizabeth “Libby” Trausch, D.P.T.’08, a DMU Clinic therapist trained to treat patients using EMG biofeedback. “Women with pelvic floor muscle disorders may experience frequent urination or leaks, which may cause them to avoid social settings. They may experience pain during intercourse, a poorly localized ache between the legs, feel like they’re sitting on a golf ball or even experience low back pain that does not seem to be improving with other interventions. Resolving those issues can make a big difference in women’s lives.”

Pelvic floor disorders, as well as pelvic organ prolapse, are caused by several factors, including pregnancy and vaginal delivery or C-section, injury, pelvic surgeries and resulting scar tissue, heavy lifting, obesity and heredity. Pelvic organ prolapse is a condition in which female pelvic organs protrude downward into the vaginal area, causing pressure and pain.

EMG biofeedback provides an immediate visual representation of contractions in pelvic floor muscles, indicating their strength, endurance or lack thereof. That feedback augments other findings and assists the therapist and patient in identifying solutions.

“Patients can see how much or how little their physical efforts contract their muscles,” Trausch says. “It’s wonderful motivation for them to work harder on specific exercises that can address the problem. A study has indicated that 40 percent of women perform Kegel exercises incorrectly, so physical therapy intervention can be a tremendous help in identifying the correct muscles and using them effectively.”

Trausch also works with patients to “retrain” their bladders with diaries, exercise, diet and nutrition, giving them greater control and longer periods between trips to the bathroom.
“We work with patients in a physical therapy environment that analyzes their posture, strength, core and hips as well as pelvic issues,” she says. “We combine education with private, gentle, effective care.

“I’m excited about how we can help patients in this way,” she adds. “A woman may have been dealing with incontinence, discomfort and pain, never realizing something could be done. We can help.”

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